Epic Stained-Glass 'Battle' by Crafts Professor Installed at Historic Site

Work by faculty member Judith Schaechter and Sculpture alum Tyler Held '11 hosted at Philadelphia's haunting Eastern State Penitentiary

Detail from "Just Clowns" by faculty member Judith Schaechter

February 23, 2012

This spring, "The Battle of Carnival and Lent" will be fought across 17 stained-glass windows in work by award-winning artist and University of the Arts Associate Professor of Crafts Judith Schaechter. Installed in the narrow skylights and arched windows of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, Schaechter's ambitious new work is inspired by the dark history of one of the nation's oldest prisons, now a historic site.

The imagery of "The Battle of Carnival and Lent" comprises over 95 figures and addresses in a non-religious way, "the psychological border territory between 'spiritual aspiration' and human suffering," says Schaechter. Her tortured, straining figures, cropped by the narrow frames of the skylights, represent the incarcerations of the human spirit. The work contrasts the prison's original purpose – to provide an environment conducive to self-reflection and penance – to the harsh realities of solitary confinement. 

"The Battle" is Schaechter's first work to be designed for a specific architectural setting. She is the recipient of many fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in crafts. Her work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, as well as numerous other collections.

Eastern State Penitentiary's 2012 artist installation program will also include work from UArts alum Tyler Held BFA '11 (Sculpture). His work, "Identity Control," reflects on the idea that a man is "too easily reduced to an object" when institutionalized.

The historic site will host an artists' reception on Friday, May 11, which will be free and open to the public.

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